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Teens and Research: Should We Enroll Adolescents in Trials of Deep Brain Stimulation for Anorexia Nervosa?


On seeing promising results in a small number of patients, some researchers are conducting trials to determine whether deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an effective treatment for anorexia nervosa (AN). This article asks whether we should open enrollment in trials of DBS for AN to adolescents. Despite concerns about informed consent, parental consent, and unforeseeable psychological sequelae, the article concludes that the risks to anorexic adolescents associated with participation in trials of DBS are reasonable considering the substantial risks of not enrolling teens with AN in research on DBS. The seriousness of AN, its high incidence in teens, and serious shortfalls in the AN treatment literature point to the need for improved, evidence-based treatments for teens with AN. This unmet need generates an obligation on the part of researchers and physicians to promote and conduct research on AN in adolescents.

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Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
  • ISSN: 0963-1801
  • EISSN: 1469-2147
  • URL: /core/journals/cambridge-quarterly-of-healthcare-ethics
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